Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Bowie Week II: Wednesday

Bowie turned his back on glam as others tried to eke out as much of a living from it as they could years past its sell-by date. What he did next came as shock to many. Recording a soul album wouldn't have been at the top of many people's lists, but that's exactly what he did. His first attempt was abandoned (released as 'The Gouster' in the 2016 box set 'Who Can I Be Now?'), but the sessions eventually yielded 'Young Americans'. Critics at the time were less than complimentary, but later on, with hindsight, they've been kinder.

Which is more than I'm going to be about The Cure's take on the title track. Recorded for former alternative radio station XFM, it is pretty diabolical. Sorry, I love The Cure, but I can't excuse this mess.

Now, you probably know of my love for 'Station To Station', for me the Bowie album against which all others must be judged. I won't go on about it. In 2013, Melvins released 'Everybody Loves Sausages', an album of cover versions which included this rather loud rendition of Station To Station, featuring Aussie maverick JG Thirlwell on lead vocals. It's a faithful take in some respects, but doesn't set my pulses racing like it ought to, what with it being the Melvins and all.

The highlight of 'Station To Station' is Bowie's incredible version of Wild Is The Wind. That's the one I turn to when I need a lift. Thing is, he didn't write it - it's a cover. Johnny Mathis did it first, then Nina Simone made it her own. Countless others have also had a go. Now you can argue all you like about the best version of this, but no one's going to convince me of anything other than Bowie's version being the definitive one. THAT VOICE!

I'm more than well aware of the love many of my readers have for the late Billy McKenzie, so I'm going to be honest here. His version of Wild Is The Wind appeared on a posthumous EP of the same name, and while it can't hold a candle to Bowie's version, it does have something special about it. It's certainly the best of the bunch as far as today's songs go.

But I also think this is worthy of a mention. Birmingham blues bombshell Joanne Shaw Taylor recorded this version on her 2016 album 'Wild'. My only criticism is that I wish she'd let her voice really go on the "Don't you know you're life itself" part. But then, maybe she's trying to do something different with it. There's something about her deep, husky blues tone that seduces me whenever I hear her.

Next stop - Berlin.


  1. Blimey, the Cure cover really is a mess isn't it? Never heard it before and am in no hurry to do so again. Billy's 'Wild is the Wind' is quite lovely, while Joanne Shaw Taylor's take of the song is a new one to me and very good, though I agree with you as regards the "Don't you know you're life itself" bit. The Melvins link appears to be down.

  2. This has been a really good time. I almost posted Associates' version of Boys Keep Swinging on Monday. Billy's take on Wild is the Wind is an even more inspired choice. Hmm, could a cover of Heroes be coming up? There are a couple of good ones out there.

  3. Billy MacKenzie's Wild Is The Wind is the version for me. Bowie can be considered "co-owner" of the song, but there is just a bit more depth and pathos in MacKenzie's version.

  4. Hey Robster. I saw your note to Echorich. Think you could hook up your old pal Brian too?

  5. As you might have guessed, it's Billy for me every single time. I still haven't ever gotten my head round, months later when it was pointed out to me, that Bowie was doing a cover. Wasn't easy to check these things in the pre-internet days.

    Really loving the approach you've adopted this week.

  6. Take 2 on this comment as it didn't register last time!!!

    As you can imagine, its Billy for me every time.

    One thing to was months after first hearing Bowie's take on it that it was pointed out to me it was a cover - I didn't believe it. These things were difficult to check in the pre-internet age.

    Oh, and I also meanto to add that I know that cover by The Cure as its on a compilation CD I have on the shelves. It's appallingly lazy....